Care about important challenges like poverty, affordable housing and neighbourhood inequality? Here’s our latest roundup of two people we think you should be following on social to stay up-to-date on the issues that matter to you:
Mary Rowe @rowemw: She’s known as a city-builder extraordinaire with decades of experience strengthening cities on both sides of the border. We met up with Mary last summer during a trip to the Big Apple to look at solutions to affordable housing. She’s currently based in New York, where after six years leading the community resilience efforts of MAS, she accepted an international fellowship with Project for Public Spaces. This past July, this urbanist was also named Evergreen’s first-ever Senior Fellow with a broad mission of “advancing action to transition cities to a sustainable future.” In her new role, she’ll lead the development of a national strategy to help strengthen civic assets including parks, libraries and community centres. We share Mary’s passion for building strong, sustainable communities and we wish her the best of luck in her new role!
David Phipps @mobilemobilizer: He’s been named the “most influential knowledge broker in Canada.” And he has a passion for turning research into impact by working with community organizations (including United Way) to help harness the power of information to do good. As Director, Research Services & Knowledge Exchange at York University, David leads the school’s award-winning Knowledge Mobilization Unit, that provides services to researchers, community organizations and government agencies who want to maximize the economic, social and environmental impacts of university research. One example? We partnered with David’s team and Dr. Stephen Gaetz of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness to look at innovative solutions to youth homelessness in York Region.
Care about important challenges like poverty, affordable housing and neighbourhood inequality? Here’s our latest roundup of three people we think you should be following on social to stay up-to-date on the issues that matter to you:
Jathusha Mahenthirarajan @jathushamahen: When she isn’t busy attending high school in York Region, Jathusha is sparking big change for girls in her community. A major advocate for building up the confidence of young women, the 17-year-old brought Ontario’s first chapter of Girl Talk to Richmond Hill. The peer-to-peer mentoring program helps girls build self-esteem, develop leadership skills and recognize the value of community service—a concept Jathusha knows well as she’s clocked over 2,000 volunteer hours in York Region and abroad. Just like United Way, Jathusha understands the vital importance of supporting education, engagement and employment opportunities to help young people reach their full potential. And her efforts aren’t going unnoticed. Recently, she was the recipient of the Richmond Hill Leading Girl Award, as well as a Secondary Citizen of Character award from the York Character Foundation. Impressed? We sure are! We can’t wait to see the remarkable work coming down the pipeline for this community hero.
Matt Galloway@mattgallowaycbc: You probably know him as the voice of the top-rated Metro Morning radio show on CBC Radio One. But what you might not know is that he has been a frequent host of our Celebration gala. This early riser and avid runner/cyclist – together with a dynamic and talented team of producers – convenes leading experts, politicians and community champions (among others) to discuss the issues that matter most to Torontonians. On any given morning, you’ll hear impassioned discussions ranging from food security and civic engagement to poverty and affordable housing. And we’re not the only one that thinks Matt is great! Toronto Life named him one of its ‘Top 15 Most Influential People’ in 2015 and he’s received numerous awards for his commitment to community including the Excellence in Community Service Award and Diversity and Social Inclusion award.
Pedro Barata @pedrobarataTO: We may be a little biased, but we think our very own VP of Communications and Public Affairs, Pedro Barata, is a must-follow on Twitter. Whether he’s sharing his passion for social justice or Tweeting about how progressive policy is changing lives in the places we all call home, he’s got his finger on the pulse of all things community-building across our region. You can also check him out on United Way’s blog, Imagine a City, where he weighs in on issues including Community Benefits and affordable housing.
100In1Day Toronto is back and is sure to be big—both in scale and impact! Co-presented by United Way Toronto & York Region and Evergreen, 100In1Day is a festival of civic engagement, mobilizing residents to organize small-scale events—“urban activations”—that create positive community change. So, don’t forget to mark June 4 on your calendar. In the meantime, check out these 5 five awesome urban activations you can’t miss.
Black Creek Community Farm: Flex your green thumb this weekend at a gardening workshop in the Jane and Finch community. Presented by Black Creek Community Farm, in partnership with FoodShare Toronto, a United Way agency, the day welcomes seasoned pros and even gardeners-in-training to Toronto’s largest urban farm. Here, residents from across Toronto and York Region will learn about the importance of accessible healthy, sustainable food and get the chance to get their hands dirty by planting vegetables, herbs and pollinator-friendly plants. Plus, the impact of this activation can last more than a day. Participants can volunteer at the garden to watch their hard work blossom.
RAC Burger Shack: Nothing says spring like the smell of burgers! Come enjoy one of the season’s most mouth-watering treats at the RAC burger shack. What’s RAC? This important zoning legislation, which United Way played a key role in advocating for, gives inner-suburban high-rise tower communities in low-income neighbourhoods greater control over local development. This could mean turning a parking lot into a playground or a vacant first floor apartment into a community centre or food market, adding to the vibrancy and livability of neighbourhoods in our community. So stop by for a burger and learn more about RAC zoning. Your feedback can help transform entire apartment complexes into more connected communities!
Community Day of Quilting for Refugees*: Help weave newcomers into the social patchwork of our region by creating a gift they’ll never forget. Join fellow crafters as they hand-sew beautiful quilts to welcome newly-arrived refugees into our community. Not only will you learn a new skill, but your efforts will ensure refugees throughout Toronto and York Region have a heartfelt memento of their new—and caring—community. Feel free to drop by for a few stitches or spend the entire day. Donations of sewing supplies and fabric are appreciated. *Please note that this event is on Sunday, June 5.
Queering the Dinner Table: Stop by FABARNAK café this weekend to serve up your thoughts on what makes restaurants inclusive. Located at The 519, a United Way agency, this 100In1Day activation aims to make dining spaces more welcoming for everyone in our region. How? By welcoming the LGBTQ+ community to share their ideas of how hospitality leaders can better promote inclusivity. So, if you’re in the neighbourhood, be sure to drop by the café and put a more welcoming restaurant scene on our community’s menu.
Thorncliffe & Flemingdon Park Ravine Repair: Be at one with nature this weekend by volunteering at the Thorncliffe & Flemingdon Park Ravine Repair project. Embrace your inner naturalist as you take on the task of ensuring residents from this priority neighbourhood can safely access and enjoy the important community space that ravines provide. There are lots of family-friendly activities to choose from including trail marking, pathway repair and even mural painting for those with artistic flair. And we promise your efforts won’t go unnoticed. At the end of the day, participants are encouraged to invite family and friends to enjoy a potluck picnic—the perfect way to close out a day of rewarding community work!
Looking for more ways to show your community you care? Head to the 100In1Day website for the full list of urban activations in our region.